Oregon's Poet Laureate, Paulann Peterson instructs a both students and professors in her lecture. Photo credit: Shelden Travers

Oregon's Poet Laureate, Paulann Peterson instructs a both students and professors in her lecture.
Photo credit: Shelden Travers

To encourage descriptive thinking, Paulann Peterson, Oregon’s Poet Laureate, led a group of students, staff and Salem residents in a poetry writing workshop Sept. 10. Peterson spoke softly, presenting possible scenarios as the group silently jotted down their responses to her suggestions. Her “sense” suggestions led the prospective poets to consider a time when they were ill or injured: what the surroundings were, what sounds they heard, what they felt and what they smelled. “Touch is more than feeling with your fingers,” Peterson explained, noting the breeze stirred up by a fan as an aspect of “touch.” One of those present was English professor Jim Hills, whose poem, inspired by the workshop, is here:   Summer Song This is to praise two gray doves modest in dress and voice sounding like a breeze in a bottle's green mouth; and the salmon dark-backed as a log in the rain shooting away from my canoe, losing himself in the shimmer of sun on river stones; and the cherries I bought for my wife and me at a stand beside a quiet road on Orcas Island, and the farmer who knew I would leave money in the wooden box; and August corn, too hot to hold, shining with bright butter on a sky blue plate; and Orion, bow drawn, hunting in the tops of the great firs.   Elizabeth, in Jakarta, I'm singing this for you.